Come Wind, Come Rain (29 weeks to go)

by Max Akroyd

Some days the weather in Brittany does something particular  – it’s like being hugged by the Atlantic; endlessly wet. Listen, I’ve lived in the Lake District and I know what real rain is like, but this is of a different, maritime order.

It’s not confined to the dark months – the heavy curtains of rain can hang around summer weeks too. But it’s at its most poignant at this time of year because it enhances the general feeling of turning inward – hibernation almost – which pervades our part of Finistère around now. I suppose anywhere without street lights for miles and any malls at all is going to be more attuned to the true character of the season – but even the little towns become introverted and a bit desolate. It’s in the nature of the place to retreat in the face of nature’s overwhelming odds.

I know people who find this fearsome. Indeed, the whole experience of living at the end of the world can be a real reckoning for the persona. Many of us suburban exiles end up skint here, or drunk, or depressed or all three. Because all this sea, sky, forest represent a tabula rasa. There’s no privilege. No inside line. Throw your CV into the waves if you want to find out what you’re worth.

Those of us raised under Northern Skies do have one slight advantage, however. As early as the end of January shows real promise of Spring and the extent of the dark, although profound, also feels very contained.

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Out here, very wet weather options are similar to anywhere else: either a. hide in the greenhouse or b. hide in the polytunnel. 

I thought I’d discovered another one yesterday. A fiendishly clever scheme which took advantage of the tendency of even the cleverest pigs to sleep off hopelessly wet days. Snoring in a big warm, porcine pile they are… it would be so easy to adjust their electrical enclosure while they slumbered wouldn’t it? As long as I didn’t make any noise louder than the lashing rain on their barn’s metal roof.

All went well for the first minute and a half. Shortly after that, tied up in a tangled knot formed by yards and yards of wire and already soaked to the skin things were looking less promising. I found myself in the strange position of being completely in need of Emma’s help but also realising that even the slightest murmur of human communication would invoke the terrible sight of two emancipated Mummy Pigs galloping around the corner.

What a pisser. I had to sort this out independently, stealthily and speedily. I generally tend to leave those sorts of attributes to others, but somehow in the ensuing couple of hours I managed to create – undetected – a new area for the ladies in slighly different position than the one it started in. The wires now click satisfyingly with their frazzling electrical charge. My wellies are still drying out on top of a radiator. And the rest of my waterproofs needed the rest of the day off in front of the woodburner. Next to me.